How To Make Straight Leg Pants Skinny (Even Without Sewing)

Skinny jeans are flattering on most body types, for both men and women. They accentuate the length of your legs, show off your natural shape, and are often more comfortable than lose alternatives. If you've fallen in love with the look and feel of skinny pants but already own straight leg jeans, you don't have to purchase a new wardrobe. We've found ways to turn your straight leg pants into skinny pants.

Here are several ways to turn your straight-leg pants skinny:

  • Sew a new seam.
  • Use an iron-on fusible tape.
  • Add zippers.
  • Use a pin roll.

Whether you're feeling adventurous enough to sew or looking for no-sew methods, keep reading as we dive into the ways you can transform your straight leg pants into your new pair of skinnies.

Elegant man with a bicycle using a smart phone in the city, How To Make Straight Leg Pants Skinny (Even Without Sewing)

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Cut and Sew

Closep up tailor process, women's hand working on sewing machine sew denim fabric


  • Jeans or pants
  • Pins
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread

1. Preparing Your Straight-Leg Pants

Before you can begin to sew your pants, you need to determine how you want them to fit. Since the seam will be sewn while the pants are inside out, it's easiest to put your pants on inside out to pin them. You can pin them while wearing the pants correctly, but you risk pins coming loose or pricking yourself when you do have to turn them inside out.

Pin the new seam location

Once you have your pants on, pull at the outside seam to determine how you want your pants to fit. For skinny pants, this means that they will be tightest at the ankle. Use pins to secure where you want your new seam to be sewn. You can do this by pinning the fit at the ankle and then periodically pinning until you reach the existing seam. Or you can use two pins, one at the bottom and one at the top where the seam will end, and then sew a line from one to the other.

Mark the new seam location

If you don't want to use pins, you can instead use a marker to draw a line for your new seam. For this method, put the pants on inside out, sit on the ground with your legs straight out in front of you, and then pull the outside seam away from your leg and draw the new seam to suit the fit you want to achieve.

Using Outside Vs. Inside Seam

It's important to note that you don't have to use the outside seam, and in some cases, just using the outside seam can ruin the look of the pants.

The inside seam of jeans tends to be double sewn. It looks nicer than the outside seam, which is a simpler stitch, and it is sturdier as well. So you may not want to ruin that inside seam.

If you are altering pants with patterns, such as vertical stripes, then altering only the outside seam will cause the pattern to pull to one side. You can fix this by altering both the inside and outside seams to keep the pattern straight.

2. Creating A New Seam

Once your pants are marked to the new skinny leg fit, you can remove them and begin to stitch a new seam. If you used a marker, you can simply use your sewing machine to sew along that drawn line. For pins, you can either sew from the bottom pin to the top pin or sew along the line created by the multiple pins used.

To create more stability in the pants' hem, you can double sew where the seam crosses the hem.

3. Finishing Touches

Once the new seam is sewn, try your pants on and see how they look and feel. It's important not to immediately cut the excess fabric off of the pants until you are certain you are satisfied with the fit. If you need to make the seam closer to your leg, you can sew a new seam since you will be cutting off the fabric holding the old seam. If you need to open the leg up more, or the adjusted seam will be too close to your first, you can simply cut the thread and pull the seam loose and start again.

When you're happy with the fit, you can cut the excess fabric from the inside of the pants. Leaving 1/4 to 1/2 an inch of fabric from the seam will allow the pants to naturally fray without interfering with your stiched line.

No-Sew Methods

Female legs in denim jeans pants and light summer sneakers standing on wooden floor

If you aren't one for sewing, you can use a couple of options to create skinnies. However, when using these methods, it will be best if you only need to alter the ankle areas to create a tighter fit. If you need to take in your pants' entire leg and aren't comfortable sewing, we recommended seeking out a tailor or seamstress to help you out!

Iron-On Tape

This is one of the least permanent methods if you're looking for a quick and simple fix that you don't mind reapplying every couple of wears. Iron-on fabric tape is similar to double-sided tape. Both sides are sticky, and when you place it between two pieces of fabric and apply an iron, it causes the tape to fuse to the fabric, holding it together.

Click here to view on Amazon.

  1. For this method, you will begin by putting your pants on inside out and once again pinning the area that needs to be altered, preferably only a few inches upwards from the bottom.
  2. Once they've been pinned, you can release the seam for the area you will be altering by cutting the thread and pulling it until the fabric is detached. Then you can lay the fabric flat, one side on top of the other, and place a strip of tape the length of the open seam between the fabrics where the pins are located.
  3. Since the pants are inside out, the tape will be sticking to the fabric on the side that is usually seen. You can then apply an iron to the fabric per the instructions and allow it to cool.

If you try on the pants and they need adjusting, you can pull the fabric apart and then peel the tape off. Again, it's important not to cut the excess fabric off until you are satisfied. You may even consider not cutting the excess fabric off if it's a smaller amount that won't bother you being inside the ankle of your pants.


This is a fun way to achieve the skinny jean look and add a bit of embellishment. For this method, you will follow the same basic steps of the iron-on tape in terms of trying the pants on inside out and pinning them where you want the alter to be. Then you will need two zippers and fabric glue.

Click here to view on Amazon.

Click here to view on Amazon.

  1. Once the pants have been pinned, you will actually need to cut some of the excess fabric off, so be as certain as you can that you like the fit. You can always cut small amounts of fabric off at a time and continue to try the pants on to make sure you don't cut too much off.
  2. Once you are satisfied, measure the length of the cut; both of your zippers will need to match this length. Use the fabric glue to attach the zipper to the pants. The zipper opening should be at the bottom of the pants and should be facing the side of the fabric that is visible when being worn. To make it as sturdy as possible, glue the fabric as close to the teeth of the zipper as you can.

Once you're finished, turn the jeans right side out, and you're good to go! The best part about this option is that there are tons of different colors and styles of zippers to choose from, so you can be as adventurous as you want.

Pin Roll

girl in beautiful yellow winter shoes on the street

This option is a quick and simple fix, perfect for creating a skinny cuffed look or for being able to tuck straight-leg pants into boots. A pin roll is a rolling method to cuff your pants that makes them tighter at the ankle. It's a simple process, but obviously not permanent.

To accomplish the pin roll, pull the outside seam away from your ankle. Pinch the seam to your desired fit, and then fold the excess fabric in on itself. While holding this fold, begin rolling from the hem upwards. this will secure the vertical fold into the horizontal fold.

How to wear skinny jeans?

The great thing about skinny jeans is their versatility. They can be dressed up or casual, for both men and women.

Women's Styles

Skinny jeans are great with heels because it accentuates your ankles, shows off your amazing shoes, and makes your legs look longer.

Elegant young woman walking on the square and texting in urban environment

Skinny jeans are perfect for a business casual outfit when paired with a blouse, blazer, and loafers.

They're also cute with a pair of tennis shoes and a baggy tee or sweater for a more relaxed look.

Close up image woman autumn city casual outfit with shopper bag

Skinny jeans are also compatible with virtually any type of boot. They are easily tucked into taller boots and tend to skim just above ankle boots.

A vertical shot of female legs with black tight pants and brown boots

Men's Styles

Black skinny jeans are the perfect streetwear for men when paired with sneakers and a plain tee. Bonus points if you can rock a denim jacket!

Portrait of tattooed young man

Men can easily dress up a pair of skinny jeans with some boots and a nice sweater.

For a more young and studious look, cuffed jeans and a relaxed sweater is the perfect fall outfit.

Elegant man with a bicycle using a smart phone in the city

Are straight leg jeans back in style?

Teenage girl enjoying an ice-cream

Straight leg jeans are definitely back in style, emphasizing the trendy ways to wear them. Cuffed is one of the most popular ways, especially if you're shorter and the pants bunch up at the bottom. If you don't want to cuff them, then a length that hits just above your foot or just above your ankle will be your best option. Straight leg jeans are popular due to their relaxed fit and comfortability, but they aren't meant to look sloppy like some longer pants can look when not cuffed.

In Conclusion

Skinny jeans, even when not the most popular style of jeans, are always versatile and flattering. So go ahead and turn those straight-leg pants into skinny jeans!

If you want to learn more about the length of straight-leg pants, you can check out this post: "How Long Should Straight-Leg Pants Be?"

A perfect accessory to skinny jeans is a bomber jacket! Check this post out for bomber jacket inspiration: "How To Wear A Bomber Jacket [10 Picture Ideas For Men And Women]"

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